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Batteries & Chargers Discuss Li-P, Li-Ion, NiMh, Nicad battery technology and the chargers that juice 'em up!

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Old 11-21-2005, 02:11 PM   #1
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This thread was seen on another forum.

http://www.laureanno.com/RC/fire-pics.htm
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Old 11-21-2005, 03:07 PM   #2
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Yikes!!
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Old 11-21-2005, 04:06 PM   #3
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"I then left the garage and went upstairs where I set up my laptop on the breakfast nook table. I got something to drink and seated myself at the table with my laptop (I had some work to do.... still). Around 20 minutes later, I all of a sudden heard my garage door unexpectedly open"


Two lessons to be learned here...
#1. Never leave charging Lipos unattended.
#2. You need a better container to charge your Lipos in.:o


Gee, you fellas sure smell all nice and flowery-like !.
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Old 11-21-2005, 05:19 PM   #4
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The fire fighters proceeded to knock down the sheet rock to be certain the fire had not spread, tearing half the wall and part of the ceiling down. They then investigated the cause (for around 45 minutes) and came to the initial conclusion that it was a general electrical fire. I myself am almost certain it was from the LiPo pack exploding (for what reason, I do not know).
Could this be yet another case of Lipo's being blamed on a fire that was actually caused by something else? The Fire Department could be wrong blaming it on electrical that started the fire, but these guys see this sort of stuff everyday and I feel that they are probably correct as to the cause. It just may have been the electrical wires going to the chargers or power supply themselves that caused this fire. Not the Lipo packs. Yes we have to be careful charging our batteries, and yes we have to keep a eye on them, but we cant blame every fire that happens with Lipo packs in the area on the Lipo's themselves.

Personal I go against all the rules by charging my Lipo's in the house . Why you ask? So I can keep a closer eye on them! I feel if I was to charge mine out in the garage I would pay less attention to safety by leaving them to charge on their own and not check on them as this guy did. By charging them in the house I'm in constant view of them if something were to go wrong. Now I admit I don't have a fire extinguisher handy if something were to go wrong, but this will be corrected as of today! Great thing about these message boards, you always get new ideas not only in building and flying, but in safety as well.

"When they outlaw RC Planes, only US outlaws will still fly RC Planes..."

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Old 11-21-2005, 06:12 PM   #5
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Question: How do you check/babysit Lipo's while they are charging? Seems like a dumb question, but I am interested in the specifics. How often do you go over and look? at them? Do you always also feel them for heat? Do you feel them for puffing? How hot is too hot? What do you do if they become too hot other than stop charging.....reduce input amperage, by how much (-%), etc. I suppose if they start puffing at all you might as well quite and place an order for another battery. Thanks!
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rugar View Post
.

Personal I go against all the rules by charging my Lipo's in the house . Why you ask? So I can keep a closer eye on them! I feel if I was to charge mine out in the garage I would pay less attention to safety by leaving them to charge on their own and not check on them as this guy did
I mounted all my charging gear on a piece of shelf board cut so that one of those extra large plastic storage boxes will just fit over. It makes a perfect rain cover and the shelf board also has one inch feet to elevate it off the concrete. I have an extra long heavy duty extension cord and I do all my charging outside in the middle of the driveway. In this location they could ignite and nothing else is close enough to burn. I don't trust charging these things indoors under any circumstances. You might contain the fire with ceramic but you won't contain the smoke. I would rather avoid the damage and my wife tossing me out along with the LIPOS.
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:24 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by GarySS View Post
Question: How do you check/babysit Lipo's while they are charging. Seems like a dumb question, but I am interested in the specifics. How often do you go over and look? at them? Do you always also feel them for heat? Do you feel them for puffing? How hot is too hot? What do you do if they become too hot other than stop charging.....reduce input amperage, by how much (-%), etc. I suppose if they start puffing at all you might as well quite and place an order for another battery. Thanks!
Your Lipo's should not get warm while charging, PERIOD!

Every few mins (at least every 10mins) I feel the packs for any kind of heat and visually look at the charger (I use Astro 109's and Triton's) to make sure that they are still showing the correct cell count and the correct charging amps that I set it for.

If you feel ANY heat at all coming from the Lipo pack, or see ANY puffing occur, disconnect it from the charger and place it in a safe area away from anything it may ignite if the pack were to catch fire. After the pack has cooled down, totally discharge the pack and properly dispose of it.

"When they outlaw RC Planes, only US outlaws will still fly RC Planes..."

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Old 11-21-2005, 06:27 PM   #8
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OMG man, I cant believe that. I really feel for you, I only have an electric trainer, and your right would rather see it crash than get burnt. I never watch my Lipo when I charge it. Will do from now on. Good Luck in building your collection again. Some very nice planes.
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:29 PM   #9
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This what I do

I charge my batteries from an industrial grade power supply set to 8.417V and 1c I only use 2s packs so there is no confusion on the voltage set.

I charge them in the house while I am in attendance usually working on the PC or when its warm out in the garden with less supervrision.
I log the time they pack takes to reach 8.4V (2 cell pack)
then log how long it takes for the current to drop by 200ma and every subsequent 200 ma. This should be an exponential curve. Any deviation from this would be cause for concern.
I have a window nearby and should they even start to misbehave they go out of it. Misbehavior would include getting even slightly warm, balooning or failing to charge in the expected manner. So far nothing untoward has occured.

I graph each charge and compare it to the norm, any battery pack deviating from the norm is treated with extreme caution on subsequent charges and may live outside for a bit.

So far this has worked over 200 times.

I realise there could be dire results if I get this wrong so I check and check again. I beleive that Lipo dont suddenly blow with no warning. They get warm then hot then swell then go bang.

Regards

Terry Rigden
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by NCguy View Post
I mounted all my charging gear on a piece of shelf board cut so that one of those extra large plastic storage boxes will just fit over. It makes a perfect rain cover and the shelf board also has one inch feet to elevate it off the concrete. I have an extra long heavy duty extension cord and I do all my charging outside in the middle of the driveway. In this location they could ignite and nothing else is close enough to burn. I don't trust charging these things indoors under any circumstances. You might contain the fire with ceramic but you won't contain the smoke. I would rather avoid the damage and my wife tossing me out along with the LIPOS.
Bottom line is what may work best for one of us, may not work for all of us. We each must make our own decision to how we can safely charge and still be able to monitor the packs and charging process. However you do it, just be safe about it.

"When they outlaw RC Planes, only US outlaws will still fly RC Planes..."

FAA# OUTLAW! (I don't own a Drone!"
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:39 PM   #11
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Tom,
Thanks for sharing your story. Since I have no fire extinguishers, I plan to buy two of them today.
Phillip
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:47 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jimmy Hoffa View Post
Tom,
Thanks for sharing your story. Since I have no fire extinguishers, I plan to buy two of them today.
Phillip
And due to this story I'm planning on buying one of those commercial-sized fire extinguishersto to replace my homeowner sized unit. I still store LIPOS in ammo cans in the garage. It would be a shame to have an extinguisher that wasnt big enough.
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:48 PM   #13
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"... connected one of the 1500maH
3-cell Kokam packs to the charging leads and placed the pack into the
ceramic container. I watched as the charger recognized the 3 cell
pack. I then proceeded to line up the other LiPo packs on the bench
while also observing the charger as it initially analyzed the LiPo pack (it
usually takes 3 minutes, according to the manual). After this 3 minute
period, I heard the charger then go into its normal charging mode (it beeps
once). I also noticed that the charger was charging at a 1300mA rate
and I was about to set it to 1500mA (1C) but did not (a little lower can't
hurt I thought). I then left the garage and went upstairs where I set..."

There are two things I note here in the above description:

1. He apparently didn't follow the 109 instructions and set to zero the charging current during
Phase One. If he had, the current would have been zero in Phase Two, not 1300 as he described. Not
sure why that would cause a fire, but it is part of the instructions for safe use of the 109.

2. He mentioned the use of a ceramic flower pot for a charging/storage container.
He didn't mention any use of a top placed on the flower pot to contain any potential fire.

(Assuming I read the writeup accurately.)

Being in the workshop while Lipos are charging gives one the utmost time to react to a fire.
If the charging Lipo is contained in a fireproof container (with top) and having a fire extinguisher
nearby would probably keep damage confined to the workbench top area at worst case.

I use a cement patio paving square on the bottom, a half cement block sitting on that square and top
it off with another cement paving square for my charging container.

SG
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by sierra-gold View Post
2. He mentioned the use of a ceramic flower pot for a charging/storage container.
He didn't mention any use of a top placed on the flower pot to contain any potential fire.

(Assuming I read the writeup accurately.)

SG
I had placed the battery pack into the "flower pot" but did not place the cover over it (as I always use to do but had been slacking). I believe the battery explosion (i.e. fire ball) lit the wings on fire and this spread rapidly to the other planes and wings that were hanging.
Actually he did mention it. He admitted he left it off.

"When they outlaw RC Planes, only US outlaws will still fly RC Planes..."

FAA# OUTLAW! (I don't own a Drone!"
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:14 PM   #15
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I use a triton charger and I found a little extra comfort and insurance after buying the temp sensor. I set the max temp from 5 to 10 degrees above outside air temp.
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:42 PM   #16
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Man, I am sorry for the losses. I'm in shock.
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:45 PM   #17
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Holy Crap! What a scary story. I only charge in my workshop which is adjacent to my barn. I'm going to re access my charging set up though. I'm religious about using a firesafe to store my charged Lipos and only use a ceramic battery bunker (with top) every time I charge. Still, after reading this...it's not enough. There's still some flammable stuff too close to my charging setup.

About that temp sensor. I have one too, but the lead is very short so I tend not to use it. Can you just use servo ext wire to make it longer?

Originally Posted by cptsnoopy View Post
I use a triton charger and I found a little extra comfort and insurance after buying the temp sensor. I set the max temp from 5 to 10 degrees above outside air temp.
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:55 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by cptsnoopy View Post
I use a triton charger and I found a little extra comfort and insurance after buying the temp sensor. I set the max temp from 5 to 10 degrees above outside air temp.
I think that I've read that LIPOS can develop thermal runaway even before they get too hot. Even after they are pulled off the charger
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Old 11-21-2005, 09:31 PM   #19
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Hey, Guys, thanks for the discussion on lipos. Hoppy, I'm sorry for your loss, but really appreciate your telling us your story. Great learning experience for all who read it. I guess it's hard to be too careful with these batteries.

I often charge my batteries in my fireplace...seems like a good place to have a fire! Also, I've purchased an inexpensive fire/smoke alarm and place it over the batteries whenever I charge them. So far, so good.

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Old 11-21-2005, 09:38 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by FirstShirt View Post
Hoppy, I'm sorry for your loss, but really appreciate your telling us your story.
I am just the messenger, first shirt. I saw the thread reference on another forum and thought you guys would be interested.

It is a eye opener regardless of the cause.
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:38 PM   #21
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th e thing is lipos are still in the experimentel stage they really are i know many will argue..... but its true .....nicads and nimhs have been around forever and so they have gotten safer but they too can explode into a firey mess i know we had a 7cell nicad go into direct short once and explode luckly we were in a parking lot and the pack was on the asphalt or it could have been much much worse it was back in the days before peak detection chargers and all ya had was the timer..............but we will see they will find a way to make them safer lighter stronger and more reliable not to mention cheaper.....we are the pioneers so its up to all of us to figure it out dont wait for the manufactuars to do it its our responsibility as well

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Old 11-22-2005, 12:23 AM   #22
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This domain name has been temporarily suspended for exceeding the daily bandwidth quota. The site will be automatically turned on again at 12:00AM PST (unless the site's allocated monthly limit is reached).

If you are the owner of this website, you can order more bandwidth
here.

As the owner of a successful Website, it may be time to upgrade to one of Globat's dedicated server solutions. Please call 1-877-2GLOBAT for more information.
OOPS! We killed the poor guy's site.
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:32 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by ForestCam View Post
OOPS! We killed the poor guy's site.
Rut Roe! :o

"When they outlaw RC Planes, only US outlaws will still fly RC Planes..."

FAA# OUTLAW! (I don't own a Drone!"
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Old 11-22-2005, 12:42 AM   #24
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I fly with 2 large lipos a 3 cell and a 4 cell 8000mah. I took an old house fuse panel (the one with the mains in it) gutted it then lined it with dry wall inc the door, jointed all the seams and cut a hole for the leads. Then painted it red. my version of a battery bunker, at no cost.
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:17 AM   #25
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After having two li-poly fires, one in which I almost lost my Van, I've chose to make sure all my batteries are in a fire safe while being charged.
You can purchase these fire safes at Walmart, Home Depot, and many other stores they are made of asbestos sealed in plastic. they usually sell for around 20 bucks. I cut a small hole in the lid seal to run the charging wires in. they work and work well, a close friend has already proven this.

Just make sure you close the cover.
Thes fires spit very hot embers of lithium for several feet. It looks like fire works going off.....so they must be in a covered container! The fire that almost cost me my van was in a pyrex dish, but I neglected to put the cover on.........luckly I was standing 3 feet away when it happened and could put all the little fires out.

Both times it happened it was my error, one time on a detecting charger, that won't charge if set wrong. The fire was because I mistakingly put a 3s and a 2s on in parallel thinking I had put two 3s on charge. too many packs lying around the charger. didn't even need the charger for that one they would have gone up anyway.

The lithium-poly batteries are a great asset to our hobby, but when you put alot of power in a small package it can be dangerous. So we need to protect ourselves from our own human error.
SPEND THE 20 BUCKS ON THE SAFE..........! Unless you think you never make mistakes !
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